The largest primary healthcare centre in Britain – and probably Europe – took another step towards completion when it was topped out with a final trowel-full of concrete by Professor Jonathan Montgomery, chair of Hampshire Primary Care Trust.
When it opens next year, the £30m Aldershot Centre for Health will provide primary healthcare for a local population of 45,000, as well as specialist services to 250,000 people in the wider area. Uniquely, the facilities will be shared by the 5,000-strong Army garrison. At 138,500 sq ft/12,866 m², the building is many times bigger than a conventional health centre. It will have more than 750 rooms for 47 separate user groups. The concept is to provide economies of scale and meets objectives set out in the NHS Plan of 2000.
The developers for the centre created a special funding package for Hampshire PCT, itself the largest PCT in Britain, and the Ministry of Defence. The PCT and MoD will own the Centre outright when the 30-year lease expires.
It will house three GP surgeries, diagnostics, dental services, a pharmacy, district nursing, health visiting, children's services, paediatric, physiotherapy, counselling, drug and alcohol advice, offices and a training suite. Local outpatient facilities for the nearby Frimley Park Hospital Foundation Trust and mental health facilities for the Surrey Hampshire Borders NHS Trust will also be provided.
The MoD may share some NHS facilities as well as having a medical reception station for non-acute, recovering personnel and a multidoctor primary healthcare practice of its own.
Malcolm Young, chief executive of Wilky, the project developers, commented: "We are proud to be associated with the NHS and MoD in this pioneering project, and hope it will act as a template for other large-scale multipurpose 'one stop' primary health centres around the country. The scheme includes a 20-bed recovery ward for the Army, and this concept of combining step-down beds with primary health facilities may also point the way ahead for some community hospital schemes."
Pictured from left: Professor Jonathan Montgomery, chair of Hampshire PCT, and local GPs Dr Peter Brigg and Dr Chris Pearson, whose practices will be moving into the centre.